Saturday, August 12, 2006

10:42 p.m. Saturday night

It's 10:42 p.m. Saturday night. This qualifies as up-late for me. Generally these days at 9:30 I'm completely out. Hard to believe that when I was a teenager, at this time of night I'd just be getting home from the roller skating rink. I spent every Saturday night of my life at the roller rink until I left home at 18 for college.

I'd come home, skates over my shoulder, pleasantly relaxed and tired. I'd make popcorn (the old-fashioned way: over the stove with a covered skillet and loose popcorn and a couple of Tablespoons of butter-flavored Crisco) and then I'd watch Dr. Who on PBS. Tom Baker was my favorite Dr. Who. I loved that scarf.

I'd sleep in Sunday mornings until at least 10 a.m.

That, for me, was sheer happiness. (In some aspects, I led a pretty sheltered life.)

I remember this time of night, what it feels like. The keen quality of the air, insects chirping steadily by the creek, the cooler temperature of this time of evening, the way cars pass by in very individual, clearly defined swoops of motion.

Somehow I've always connected 10:42 p.m. Saturday with something both comfortable and very precisely defined. I just forgot about how it feels, until right this very minute -- it makes me feel as if I could always be that young.

I laid awake tonight after the boys went to sleep listening to the night and puzzling as the crickets keened outdoors: what does this remind me of?

Then I couldn't sleep until I went downstairs and wrote it out -- oh, the power of association! To extract the juice from a memory, as one taps a cactus for aloe, finding a balm that replenishes for ever.